Bruno Caboclo played 13 minutes on Monday against the New York Knicks, and that was probably the only meaningful thing that came out of another forgettable preseason game. This being the preseason and Caboclo being such an unknown, I've decided to review the tape and take a closer look at his performance. All video clips below are from here.
1. The challenges on the defensive end
Even before he becomes comfortable as an individual defender, Caboclo is already showing how his length and wingspan can be disruptive on the defensive end. In the clip below, you can see how Caboclo is able to force the turnover as he alternates between guarding his man -- Cleanthony Early in this case -- and helping as Amar'e Stoudemire catches the ball with his back to the basket:
Admittedly, the Knicks did not have the best spacing on that play, which made Caboclo's job a whole lot easier.
In the second clip, you can see again Caboclo is matched up against Early on the perimeter. As he gets into his defensive stance, Caboclo uses his arms to again close off potential passing lanes for Early, and in this specific scenario, is able to create a turnover.
Of course, defensive instincts and understanding the proper positions to be in takes time. And there are possessions where you can almost see Caboclo think about where he needs to be rather than simply being there. Watch here as the ball eventually swings towards Caboclo.
J.R. Smith makes his move towards the basket and Caboclo leaves his man -- Early again -- in the corner, but is hesitant as to whether to help or stay on his man. It leaves just a slight opening for Smith to find Early in the corner for a three-point attempt (of course, Caboclo is able to make up for that space in a hurry and recover with his length, sensing a theme?).
Caboclo -- as expected -- also gets into trouble when he's matched against quicker players on the perimeter. In the sequence below, you can see three possessions where Smith is able to get by Caboclo to the basket and use his dribble to create space for open jump shots. Although, it's unlikely Caboclo will see too many minutes in meaningful games where he's asked to guard quicker wing players like Smith, at least to start.
2. Encouraging signs on the offensive end
The one thing that immediately jumps out at me watching Caboclo on offense is how quickly he makes his first move. He's shown range with his jumper, as evident here on a catch-and-shoot corner three. Again, without hesitation, in rhythm:
He was very quick with his decisions on the other possessions where he got the ball, whether he was dribbling to a spot on the floor for a step-back jumper, or driving baseline to the basket and drawing a foul.
Again, this is very early, but if Caboclo can develop a consistent jumper, it's going to open a lot of other things up for him, and he seems ready to mix it up on the offensive end.
3. And, by the way..
Most importantly, the resemblance between Caboclo and Nas is picking up momentum. We brought you an Illmatic photoshop last week. And now, several folks picked up on the similarities last night too.
No, seriously, this is deeply important to me.